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Jaime Lock Manuever.
John and The Chef Play a New Game.

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The Jaime Lock Manuever . . .

Chef approached John,"Can you put a hasp on the Kitchen Storeroom door? Somebody keeps going in there and helping themselves. This last weekend they took three of my brand new chaffing dishes."

"Somebody stole three chaffing dishes?"

Chef shook his head, "No, they USED them. They didn't steal the chaffing dishes. They brought the chaffing dishes back but they didn't clean them. They put them back on the shelf with dried food all over them. They couldn't use my OLD chaffing dishes. OH NOOOOO ! They had to mess up my BRAND NEW ones."

John scratched the back of his head, "Well the first conclusion I would leap to . . . is that Jaime is up to his old tricks again."

Chef though for a moment then stated cautiously, "I can't say it is any one person but it's definitely an inside job because they had access to the food and beverage key ring."

"That would be Jaime."

Chef disagreed, "No, Jaime is the Houseman. He doesn't have access to the food and beverage key ring."

"Chef, trust me." John explained, "Jaime has access to the food and beverage key ring. If it is under this roof, Jaime has access to it. You and I work here, Chef, but Jaime owns the place. For 22 years, he has been the only Houseman this Hotel has ever had. He has seen countless General Managers, Chief Engineers, Food and Beverage Managers, as well Chefs come and go. "

Chef rejected the claim. "That's all well and good", he said, "but I don't think Jaime has any access to the food and beverage key ring. It is locked in the key box in Linda's office."

Chef continued, counting on his fingers, "These are the people who have a key to the food and beverage key box....."

Chef extended the first finger, "Red, the food and beverage Manager."

He extended the second finger, "Linda, Red's secretary."

Third finger, "Todd, the General Manager."

Fourth finger, "Me"

Smiling, John held up his thumb, "Five: Jaime"

The Chef squinted, "Do you know that for a fact?"

John shook his head, "No, only hearsay. Once, when the main kitchen was closed, My maintenance plumber utilized the opportunity to get some work done under the steam table on the main line. He said he didn't bother turning on the lights over the back line because he had no business back there. My plumber told me he saw Jaime come through the back kitchen door and go to the coffee station."

Chef interrupted, "The BACK door? That door is always supposed to be locked when the kitchen is closed."

"That is what my plumber said." John replied, "Anyway . . . From his hiding spot under the steam table, he watched Jaime pour a cup of coffee, then spring the lock on the freezer to get a scoop of ice cream. Then, My plumber told me he watched Jaime stroll over to the pastry case and open that lock, too. With a cup of coffee, a little ice cream topper and three macadamia nut cookies, Jaime left the kitchen by the back door and never knew my plumber was sitting under the steam table all along."

Chef questioned, "Why didn't you write the incident up? That seems to be more than hearsay! That is breaking and entering with theft which can be verified by a witness."

John agreed but added, "My maintenance plumber didn't want to be the one to send a 22 year employee into the streets over ice cream and cookies. He wouldn't do the paperwork."

"Oh well. . .", Chef shrugged, ". . . I wonder if that explains the Anderson anniversary cake fiasco. About six months ago, we had a three-tier cake locked up in the pastry case. Some goon cut a slice out of the top tier! We didn't have time to fix it. We just served it as a two-tier cake. There wasn't enough cake for everyone." Chef shook his head, " Banquets wrote me up over that. They said I didn't follow the menu."

John, continued," Oh, last summer, my Electricians needed to get to a panel in the Banquet Storeroom. But every person who could open the door was gone that day. Red and Linda were out of town with Todd and it was your day off.

So, my Electricians asked Jaime if he had a key to open the Banquet Storeroom. Jaime laughed and bragged that he could get into any room in this hotel. The Electricians said, 'fine, then open the Banquet Storeroom door . . . ' Jaime said he wouldn't use his keys during normal business hours because he didn't want to be seen using keys he wasn't supposed to have.

Well, that really ticked off my Electricians and they came to me with the story. I had to go through three Security Guards but I eventually got my Electricians into that Storeroom. Funny thing, Jaime just happened to be vacuuming the Banquet Hallway when I finally got the Storeroom door open."

"Well, that IS pure hearsay", Chef disagreed, "And, hearsay is not good enough to accuse someone of breaking in"

"No, you are right", John agreed, "We can't do anything formally. But, I still suspect Jaime."

The chef repeated, "So, can I get a hasp on the Kitchen Storeroom door?"

"Oh Sure!" John said, "I'll have it done today. But Chef, use your own padlock and don't put the padlock key on the food and beverage key ring!"

Chef shrugged, "Well, I HAVE to. What if I am not here and someone needs something in the Kitchen Storeroom?"

"Fine", John agreed, "Give a copy of the key to Security, but NOT to food and beverage. I swear that Jaime has a key to the food and beverage key box."

"OK, I'll think about it", Chef agreed, " Now, you just get the hasp on the door and I will figure out the next step."

The following Wednesday, A smiling Chef gave John an update, "I went to Home Headquarters and bought two padlocks. They look the same but they have different keys. One I use to lock the Kitchen Storeroom door when I am here. The other, I use to lock the Kitchen Storeroom door when I leave. I have given a copy of the key to the 'HERE' padlock to food and beverage and they put it on the food and beverage key ring. But, when I leave, I pull a switcheroo and put the "GONE" padlock on the door. Security and I are the only ones who have a key for that padlock."

John listened intently, "So, how is that working?"

"You know, it's funny", Chef continued, "Every day this week, Jaime has been signing out the food and beverage key ring and cutting through the kitchen, waving the key ring over his head (so I could see). Each day, gets something minor out of the Kitchen Storeroom. One day it was paper towels. The next, it was toilet paper. Then Glass cleaner. Don't tell me the Kitchen Storeroom is the only place a Houseman can get cleaning supplies! Why the sudden interest in the Kitchen Storeroom?"

"Veeeeeerrrry Een-terrr-est-eeeng", John replied.

"Now, this is the best part...", the Chef grinned, "Yesterday, when I was switching padlocks, I noticed someone had made a red dot with a Magic Marker on the 'GONE' padlock. I sneaked around and found my own red Magic Marker so I could make a red dot in the exact same place on the 'HERE' padlock. Today, there were TWO red dots on the 'GONE' padlock. I made a duplicate mark on the 'HERE' padlock."

"Playing this game seems like a nuisance", John muttered.

"Not at all!", Chef raised both hands above his head proclaiming, "Child's play! I am a CHEF! A graduate of the Culinary Institute! My LIFE is to CREATE! If I cannot duplicate a few marks or scratches on a padlock, then I am not worthy of my profession!

The Chef winked, "Besides, it's really, really fun!"

John inquired, "Have you ever come up with any firm evidence as to who your opponent in this little game might be?"

Still nothing definite...but I will tell you this..."

"What?", John whispered.

"Maybe its just me. . . ", the Chef said, "But, I think Jaime is starting to lose weight . . . "


Editor's Note: The name Jaime is pronounced HY'-Mee. The Title of this story is a pun on the term 'Heimlich Maneuver'.

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